in one's interest vs. on one's behalf

dolcedell

Senior Member
Italian
Hi,

A patient must be able to trust that the doctor will listen to them and act in their interest.

If I replace in their interest with on their behalf, will that change the meaning of the sentence? Thank you.
 
  • cyberpedant

    Senior Member
    English USA, Northeast, NYC
    Those phrases have very different meanings. To act on someone's behalf means to do something which, for whatever reason, they are not able to do. To act in someone's interest is to do something with the other person's welfare uppermost in your mind.
     

    hotpocket

    Senior Member
    American English / Boston
    Hi dolcedell,

    Remember that 'a patient' is singular. By grammatical convention in English, your original sentence should read...

    A patient must be able to trust that the doctor will listen to him/her and act in his/her (best) interest.

    Using on his behalf or on her behalf means doing something that that person is otherwise unable to do on his/her own, due to absence or to physical or mental incapacitation.

    So to sum up, I would write...

    A patient must be able to trust that (his) doctor will listen to him and act in his best interest.

    OR

    A patient must be able to trust that (her) doctor will listen to her and act in her best interest.

    Cheers,
    hotpocket
     
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